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Canada’s Wonderland

Get Set for Summer: Family Time

SUMMER IS SYNONYMOUS WITH FAMILIES AND THERE’S NO SHORTAGE OF THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN THE CITY.

LeviathanJuly7-2 copy

Take your family for a ride the Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland this summer.

The Toronto Zoo is always a hit with kids of all ages. Home to more than 5,000 animals from more than 450 species, there’s an extra special reason for a visit: the arrival of eight new animals, including two giant panda cubs named Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, four white lion cubs, an Indian rhino calf, and Juno the polar bear cub. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is likewise a popular destination for families to explore nine different galleries featuring more than 13,500 sea creatures such as jellyfish, octopus, pufferfish, stingrays and more.

Would-be architects and designers can let their imaginations run wild at Legoland Discovery Centre, where they can build their own race cars and test its aerodynamics, or be inspired by a recreation of Toronto’s landmarks completely in the brick form. Ever wonder what happened with Emmett and his friends after The Lego Movie? There’s a new 4D movie exclusively that catches up with Wyldstyle, Unkitty and MetalBeard. Learning and play go hand-in-hand at the Ontario Science Centre through its interactive exhibits on astronomy, geology, nature, human anatomy, technology, music and more. Currently, a special travelling exhibit, The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is on display with experiments, challenges and touchable specimens that delve into the oddities associated with Ripleys, from how illusions work to how to swallow a sword safely.

Getting to Centreville Amusement Park is part of the fun; the picturesque ferry ride over to the Toronto Islands is bound to get everyone in the mood for a day of rides like bumper boats, twirling tea cups, and the log flume. The attraction, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, also boasts a petting farm with the likes of an alpaca, llama, pygmy goat, and a mini donkey and pony. Thrill seekers love the rides at Canada’s Wonderland, which counts the country’s tallest and fastest roller coast, Leviathan, among its 200-plus attractions. There are more tame rides at Planet Snoopy and Kidzville for wee ones, plus a 20-acre waterpark. New this year are two interactive rides: Flying Eagles for little ones and Skyhawk for adults, who can make 360 degree turns from 135 feet up in the air.

EAT Combine an activity with a meal at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, as knights on horseback joust before King Don Carlos and Princess Catalina in an epic battle. The King’s favourite meal—chicken, potatoes, corn, and tomato soup—is served as guests watch the clash between the East and West sides.

The scope of Pickle Barrels menu is enough to make it a family-favourite—there are several hundred items on the menu ranging from grilled cheese and chicken fajitas to pasta and French toast—ensuring that even the fussiest of eaters can be appeased. Step back in time at The Old Spaghetti Factory, which is chock-full of vintage details including a 100-year-old carousel and even a streetcar that you can dine in. The fare is classically Italian with offerings like lasagna, ravioli and spaghetti with meatballs. More upscale Italian fare can be found at Terroni—and a more fitting environment for older kids—with crispy, thin crust pizzas, panini sandwiches and pastas; there’s also a patio for al fresco dining at their original Queen West location.—Linda Luong Luck

Get excited for summer with these other action-packed itineraries:

Get Set for Summer: Cheer on the Hometown Team

Get Set for Summer: Culture Vultures

 

Weekend Roundup: October 5 to 7

Friday: The Evergreen Brick Works gets an East Coast makeover for Alexander Keith’s birthday bash

Friday, October 5
East Coast King of Brews Alexander Keith’s celebrates 217 years in the beer business with a party at the Evergreen Brick Works. Your $10 tickets gets you free shuttle service, an exclusive performance by Matt Mays and a drink to pair with Toronto food vendors’ fare, specially created to go perfectly with a cool pint of Keith’s.

Spekt! Bier! Lederhosen! Celebrate German tradition (and happy hour) with Toronto Oktoberfest at St. Lawrence Market. Live entertainment, including oom-pah bands and a Bavarian strongman, helps get you into the Deutsch spirit in a traditional beer hall environment.

The Wiggles are touring together for the last time as Greg, Jeff and Murray prepare to leave the famous foursome after 21 years performing favourites like “Hot Potato” and “Rock a Bye Your Bear.” Take the kids to say farewell tonight at the Ricoh Coliseum—and watch out for three new wiggles to join remaining member Anthony in the near future. (more…)

Leviathan: A Monstrous New Ride at Canada’s Wonderland

Get ready for the adrenaline rush of your life as Canada’s Wonderland unleashes Leviathan, one of the biggest, tallest roller coasters in the world. You’ll be screaming with excitement as you’re lifted 306 feet in the air, then immediately dropped at an 80-degree angle at a speed reaching close to 150 kilometres per hour. Boasting 5,486 feet of exhilarating twists and turns—like 180-foot camelback hills and an overbanked hammerhead turn that zooms directly over the park’s front gates—this unbelievable thrill ride is just the latest of many ways to have fun at the huge attraction just north of Toronto. Open daily, day pass $57.99; call 905-832-7000 or visit here for more information.

30 Things We Love About Toronto This October

3. Medieval Times

1. The wonder of liquid nitrogen ice cream from Colborne Lane prepared tableside.

2. Catching a live performance by the iconic Liza—with a z—Minnelli on October 28.

3. Jousting knights on horseback at Medieval Times.

4. Seeing the city on two wheels with the rental of Bixi Bikes; return them to many conveniently located docking stations in the downtown core.

5. Serpentine sculptures handmade by Native Canadian artists from Eskimo Art Gallery. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Canada Day Edition

Our national pride soars on Canada Day (photo by Will Spaetzle)

We’re all-Canadian for this edition of the roundup, as Canada’s 144th birthday is celebrated throughout the city (and nation-wide). On Friday, July 1, check out these fun-for-the-whole-family events and activities.

> Get up early and head north to Downsview Park for a special Canada Day breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. If you’re lucky enough to have tickets, you’ll be certain to return in the afternoon for a much-anticipated concert by the Tragically Hip, with special guests Broken Social Scene, Buck 65 and others.

> Harbourfront Centre is always busy on summer weekends, and this one is no exception, with Canada Day festivities—everything from a strawberry “culinary marathon” to a performance by Esthero—happening all day long.

> A favourite long weekend event, the annual Toronto Ribfest takes over Centennial Park. Live music and kid-friendly attractions keep the whole family entertained, but the real draw, of course, are the meaty barbecue offerings from some of North America’s best “ribbers.”

> Head to Yonge-Dundas Square for something a little different—the downtown venue hosts the fifth annual Multicultural Canada Day Celebration, presented by the Community Folk Art Council of Toronto. Starting at noon, this spirited party features music, dancing and more from a variety of cultures. Be sure to be hanging around at 7 p.m., when the special Bollywood dance party kicks off.

> And, of course, Canada Day wouldn’t be complete without a colourful fireworks display. The city’s biggest show takes place over Lake Ontario’s shore at Ontario Place, where free grounds admission makes finding an ideal viewing spot even easier this year. There are also crowd-pleasing fireworks displays occurring to the east (at Ashbridges Bay), the west (at Centennial Park), the north (at Mel Lastman Square) and even further north (at Canada’s Wonderland).

If you have any energy remaining, the rest of the weekend provides ample opportunity for entertainment, too!

> The TD Toronto Jazz Festival continues through to the end of the weekend, with headline performances by the likes of The Roots (on Friday night), Bootsy Collins (Saturday) and vocal powerhouse Nikki Yanofsky (Sunday)

> A distinctive culinary event comes to the Distillery Historic District on Saturday—Food Truck Eats gathers mobile fare purveyors from Toronto and elsewhere in southern Ontario, all offering samples of street fare such as tacos, poutine, smoked meat and more.

> One of Toronto’s biggest parties, the world-famous Pride Parade, marches down Church Street on Sunday afternoon, in a vibrant celebration of diversity and acceptance.

Weekend Roundup, October 8 to 10

Toronto’s fun doesn’t stop just because the temperature drops outdoors! There are plenty of new exhibits, shows and performances which will guarantee a good time for everyone this weekend!

Friday: Be wowed by iD (photo by Valérie Remise/Theatre T & Cie)

Friday, October 8th
Catch the entertaining, adults-only puppet show, Billy Twinkle: Requiem for a Golden Boy at the Factory Theatre! When puppeteer Billy Twinkle gets fired from his job on a cruise ship, he must perform his life story as a puppet show to rediscover his love for the craft. It’s a must-see performance that has been garnering rave reviews!

Cirque Éloize has created another masterpiece! Now showing at the Sony Centre For the Performing Arts, iD is filled with jaw-dropping acts  that combine theatre, dance, music, and circus arts. With lots of energy and risky stunts, this innovative show brings plenty of visual effects to make for an unforgettable evening.

Trick or treat! Although Halloween is a few weeks away, visitors to Canada’s Wonderland should prepare to scream as this famous amusement park is once again transformed into the largest haunted attraction in the country. The annual Halloween Haunt offers tons of spooky attractions like haunted mazes and the Psycho Circus. Plus, experience all your favourite rides in complete darkness!

Saturday: Hear classics performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Saturday, October 9th
Enjoy a night of legendary music as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs George Gershwin’s legendary Rhapsody in Blue. This all-American concert will also feature Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Leonard Bernstein’s overture to Candide. Head to Roy Thomson Hall for this powerful performance!

Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida has returned to the Canadian Opera Company stage! This tragic opera tells the forbidden love story between an Ethiopian slave girl and an Egyptian king in a time of war. It’s a stirring show, on now at the Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts.

The Fryderyk Chopin and Romantic Piano exhibit opens today at the Royal Ontario Museum. Showcasing numerous instruments, costumes and original scores from the Romantic Era, the show celebrates the bicentennial of this amazing composer’s birth.

Sunday: See mythical beasts at the Ontario Science Centre

Sunday, October 10th
Are you fan of all things fantasy? Head to the Ontario Science Centre to see their newest exhibit Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids. On display is an unbelievable range of sculptures, fossils, creatures and characters that have played a large role in popular myths and fables. You (literally) can’t miss the 40-metre long Chinese dragon that stretches along this exhibit!

The Arts at the Heart market takes over the busy Yonge-Dundas Square this weekend as hundreds of vendors display their handmade wares for sale. Find unique and colourful apparel, fashionable jewelery, belts, accessories and so much more.

It’s your last chance to check out Cirque du Soleil’s Banana Shpeel! This unique production brings together incredible circus acts, colourful costumes, vibrant dance routines, and a hilarious story. The final performance is tonight at the Canon Theatre.

Hot Date: Return to Wonderland

The Behemoth roller coaster

OPENS MAY 2 For nearly 30 years, the unofficial start of summer has been marked with the annual reopening of Canada’s Wonderland. This season, the theme park introduces Planet Snoopy, a reinvention of the 20-acre kids’ park featuring three new rides and a cartoon character-filled ice show. When the weather warms, visitors can stay cool at Splash Works—a huge water park with the country’s largest wave pool—or brave rapids with the family on the White Water Canyon ride. Thrill seekers are invited to rediscover speedy standards like The Vortex, Flight Deck and the massive Behemoth (pictured) roller coasters. And if all the excitement leaves you famished, international food vendors plus park staples like funnel cakes, ice cream and cotton candy are available for refueling. Adults $40.99, seniors and youth $31.99; call 905-832-8131 for more information.

Opening Day at Canada’s Wonderland

Canada's Wonderland

Photo by Linda Luong.

This Sunday, May 3, is opening day at Canada’s Wonderland, an amusement park 40 minutes north of downtown. Rides aplenty are here, from heart-pounding roller coasters that take you as high as the sky, fling you from side to side, turn you upside down and every which way—names like Drop Tower, Psyclone and SkyRider are a testament to the intensity of these rides—to the more serene offerings like the antique carousel and bumper cars. For the really brave of heart, hop on the Behemoth, the country’s biggest, fastest and tallest roller coaster that takes you up 230 feet before careening back down a 75-degree angle at 125km/hour.

Little ones aren’t excluded from the fun and thrills, albeit pint-size ones. Friends like Dora the Explorer an Sponge Bob Square Pants roam around the park for picture ops, while Nickelodeon Central, Kidzville and Hanna-Barbera Land are filled with colourful helicopters, cars and boats to take kids up, up—but not too up—and away.

And at the end of the day, treat yourself to a toasty warm funnel cake topped with milky white vanilla ice cream and sweet strawberries with drizzling strawberry sauce—it’s one of my favourite ways to end a day of heart-pumping adventures.

So, grab a friend—or several—and head to Wonderland.